SINGAPORE: The world watched transfixed as the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean head of state took place in Singapore on Tuesday (Jun 12).
As crowds lined the streets of Singapore to see Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un head off for their meeting in the morning, millions more tuned in to watch the historic moment unfold “live”.
The event was closely followed in the South Korean capital Seoul, where thousands gathered at railway stations and across various locations for public screenings of the landmark summit.
Spontaneous applause broke out the moment Kim and Trump stepped out and greeted one another with a cordial handshake.
Giant screens at prominent buildings around Seoul also broadcast the meeting, with many stopping to soak in the momentous nature of the event. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency showed President Moon Jae-in smiling at the moment Trump and Kim shook hands.
“The North Korea-US summit has now started,” Yonhap quoted Moon as saying during a Cabinet meeting. “I guess the attention of all our people must currently be directed toward Singapore.”
He added: “I spent a sleepless night. I, along with all our people, sincerely hope that it will be a successful summit that will open a new era of complete denuclearisation, peace and a new relationship between South Korea, North Korea and the United States.”
But there were also protests in Seoul, with anti-war activists rallying outside the US embassy to call for peace treaty and an end to nearly 70 years of hostilities. The 1950-53 Korean War was concluded only with a truce, not a peace treaty.
In Los Angeles’ Koreatown, many gathered for communal screenings of the summit and cheered and clapped when images of the handshake beamed from Singapore.
Koreatown has one of the largest concentrations of Koreans in the US, and many residents there expressed their hope for a positive outcome in the lead-up to the Singapore summit.
On the US east coast, crowds also took part in mass viewings of the event – with many gathered at New York’s Times Square to watch the summit on TV screens.
In Tokyo, people rushed to get special editions of newspapers covering the summit as the Japanese closely watch the movements of Kim, who in the past has sent rockets flying over Japan.
Markets in Japan kept a close eye on proceedings in Singapore.
Japan’s Nikkei share average rose on Tuesday morning, buoyed by optimism the summit could pave the way for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
The Nikkei rose 0.5 per cent to 22,906.14 in midmorning trade, after dipping in negative territory briefly. The Nikkei was just a hair under its four-month high.